Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Sidewalks of La Paz

One of the first things I learned in Mexico is to watch where you are walking. The obvious reason is to avoid dog poop, but there is not so much of that as you would think. The primary reason to watch your step is that if you don’t, you will fall on your face – sooner rather than later. After one or two stumbles in Ensenada I stopped gawking at the sights and keep my eyes on the ground in front of me.

If an area seems interesting, I just stop walking and have a leisurely look around. It takes us a good long while to get anywhere but we don’t have to be anywhere in a hurry anyway.
I’ve said before that the three cities we have visited – Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas, and La Paz - are all very different from each other. One of the most notable differences is the sidewalks. In Ensenada we often walked into the neighborhoods. Away from the marinas and cruise ship docks we saw mostly dirt or sand walkways. Many were raked daily and kept free of litter. Others were not. Cabo is very oriented to tourists and, although we walked for miles every day, we never got beyond the sidewalks and most are very well maintained, not only kept in good repair, but frequently scrubbed down with soap and water. The smell of Pine Sol will forever remind me of Cabo. 

La Paz is the most interesting where sidewalks are concerned. It appears that each home or business is responsible for building and maintaining (or not) the adjacent walkways and there don’t seem to be any rules or standards.

There are some small hills in La Paz, so several streets have stepped sidewalks, but there are also random raised sidewalks in front of individual buildings as well as some very high curbs with steps leading up to them. One homeowner has built his section more than 2 feet higher than the rest of the block forcing pedestrians off of the sidewalk and into the street.
There are frequently deep holes filled with gravel or garbage or nothing at all. Just as often there are beautiful creations of mosaics, tile, or cobblestone. There is a surprise around every corner in La Paz.

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